How Can I Control My Temper? Answers from the Bible

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

Sometimes our anger or temper can get the best of us, so how can we keep our temper under control?

Okay to be Angry

“give no opportunity to the devil” (Eph 4:27)

Sometimes our anger or temper can get the best of us, so how can we keep our temper under control? It is actually right to be angry, like when you see a child being abused or an elderly person being taken advantage of. We should intervene when we see this happen. We should have a righteous indignation against such things. That is not sin. What is sin is when we dwell on it and refuse to forgive those who ask for it. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger” (Eph 4:26). In other words, get that anger settled. Don’t stew about it overnight because it won’t go away. That’s why Paul said don’t let the sun go down and stay angry. Is this way we will “give no opportunity to the devil” (Eph 4:27) and let that anger take root.

Avoiding Bitterness

Unchecked anger that is sustained over time does more harm than God, therefore Paul says, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice” (Eph 4:31). Be angry for a time, yes, but we must “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph 4:32). God’s anger did not remain on us when we trusted in Jesus because that anger was placed on His Son. Remember, Jesus turned over the money changers tables because they were profaning the Temple of God (Matt 21:12), so Jesus was angry for the right reason…be He didn’t stay angry.

God’s Sovereignty

The late pastor and author Adrian Rogers once said, “A faith that’s not been tested is a faith that can’t be trusted,” and that is so true. Solomon observed that “Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city” (Prov 16:32), so what better way to build patience than by experiencing things that test our patience. Paul had to learn contentment by living through such horrible experiences that most of us couldn’t live through. You learn contentment by knowing God is still on His throne and doing what is best for us, even when it doesn’t feel “best.” When we remember that God is sovereign over all that happens, we can trust that it will all work out for our very best (Rom 8:28).

Turning Anger Away

I remember a former church member years ago debating an atheist, trying to prove beyond all doubt that Jesus is God and that He is Lord and Savior and the Bible is true. What he missed is that it’s not an intellectual argument that will persuade him or her, but a heart issue. First off, they need the Holy Spirit Who reveals Who Jesus is and why they desperately need Him. Paul never saved anyone and neither have I. It is God Who draws men and women to Christ, just like it was when “a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul” (Acts 16:14). God opened the heart…the Word of God took root, and she was saved.Bible Verses About Hell

Blinded by Satan

When we get angry at people who are lost, it’s like getting angry at someone who’s blind for stumbling into something. We must remember that “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor 4:4). They were as we once were; we were blind, but then we could see. Pray for their souls that God’s anger would be turned away from them by their trust in Christ. We think our anger is bad? Read the Book of Revelation and update yourself on God’s wrath on the unrepentant (i.e. Rev 1:7, 20:12-15; 21:8).

An Eternal Perspective

When we think of their eternal state, God forbid, an eternal separation from God in hell, it should soften our anger and breed compassion in our hearts for the lost. Jesus wept over the lost souls in Jerusalem. God desires that none should perish. He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, so we must have the same eternal perspective on these souls as God does. They may not have the Spirit of God, therefore they cannot know the things of God and cannot produce the fruits from God (His Spirit).

They’re Hurting

Sometimes people just know how to push our buttons. They seem to find that last nerve and step on it, but wait! There’s very likely something going on below the surface; something that we may not see. Perhaps they’re really hurting and in a situation where they don’t know where to turn. They might actually be asking for help or at least showing they need help when they explode and lose their temper. What can we do? Solomon wisely notes that “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention” (Prov 15:18), so perhaps we can quiet down the situation and diffuse things and be a peace maker perhaps. God says, “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense” (Prov 19:11), so we must learn to overlook some things and be slow to anger (James 1:19). Think of the person first…maybe they just need someone to talk to. Offer yourself for that.

Conclusion

If you have trouble with your anger or temper, think about Bible verses where God says, “He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities” (Psalm 103:10), and remember that “while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom 5:6). God died for us…the ungodly, and “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). We weren’t only ungodly, but wicked sinners, and yet Christ died for us, even “while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son” (Rom 5:10a). Summary; Jesus died for us who were once ungodly, wicked enemies of God! That’s grace. It should humble us that God should be so kind to unworthy sinners who were formerly the children of wrath (Eph 2:3). Those facts alone should diffuse any remaining anger we have, especially when we remember the anger of God that Jesus’ diffused for us.

Here is some related reading for you: How Do I Deal With My Anger?

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.



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